Georgina Adam uses her Financial Times column to question the authenticity of a Caravaggio painting that had been hanging in New York’s Metropolitan Museum for much of the 21st century.
The unusual claim seems to be based upon a 17-year-old article in Lute News. The FT doesn’t explain why or how the issue came to light now:
an article published in 1999 in Lute News, the newsletter of the Lute Society, which went largely unnoticed, questioned the attribution of one potentially highly valuable work belonging to the Wildensteins — Caravaggio’s “The Lute Player” (1596).
Reported to be worth some £69m, it is (supposedly) one of three versions, and had been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until 2013, when it was taken back by the family. However, in the opinion of lute-maker David Van Edwards, a wealth of details in the painting including the number of pegs on the lute and its bridge mean that the work could not be from the 16th century and therefore, he concludes, is inauthentic.
Art dealer Clovis Whitfield concurs: “I know how obsessive Caravaggio was in his observation of detail, and so this picture is disqualified in a comparison with any of the originals.”
The Wildenstein lawyer declined to comment.